Fire activity was low in northern Australia but unprecedented in southeast Australia.
2019 was a year of unprecedented forest fires. Many fire emergencies occurred during the year.
During the 2018/19 fire season, large fires occurred in January in Tasmania, and from January to March in Victoria.
The 2019/2020 season started in early September with major fires in Queensland and northern NSW. Significant bushfires started in November in SA and in December in Tasmania and Victoria.
National fire activity was close to average: 10% below 2000–2018 average and 14% greater than the previous year.
The total area burnt was 26 Mha; 42% below 2000–2018 average values and 46% lower than the previous year.
However, there were large regional differences: fire activity and burn extent were below or average across most of the inland due to low fuel loads, but the highest since at least 2000 in Tasmania, along most of the East Coast and in parts of WA.
Australia’s wet forests were impacted heavily. An unprecedented 8.7% or 0.59 Mha of closed forests was burnt, not including further bushfires in early 2020 NSW, Victoria and ACT.
NSW and Tasmania experienced extensive fires. Burn extent in NSW was 2.4 times higher than the 2000–2018 average, and 3.8 times higher in Tasmania.
Unusually dry fuel and hot weather explain high fire activity in southeast Australia.
Nationally, fuel was the driest since at least 2000 due to low fuel cover as well as low moisture content.
Total fire carbon emissions were above average at 182 Mt carbon; 24% more than the 2000–2018 average and 14% more than in the previous year.
Unusually, most emissions were from forest fires. Carbon emissions were the highest recorded in NSW and Tasmania.
source: Australia’s Environment in 2019 Summary Report (link)